Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dreaded Business Plan

Do you have one? After 5 years in business and knowing that they are the single most important thing you can do for your business I hang my head as I answer no, I do not have one. I've always had the intentions but you know how it goes; excitement at starting a business, getting it going, filling orders, having babies, filling orders, taking care of babies, filling orders......Ok, really it just sucks to write a business plan. It really, really sucks!

I'm a creative person! I love to create, dream, market, network. I don't want to talk financials! I don't want to talk about statistics and market shares. I don't want to talk lawyers and accountants! So, here I sit. Five years in and major growth happening. I've hit that point where I'm making more money, but I need more money to grow. What to do? Up until this point I've always followed the law of bootstrapping. Growing out of my profits. But that only takes you so far when you want to grow faster!

One thing venture capitalists and bank loan officers have in common is the question "Do you have a Business Plan?"
Your business plan is your company's calling card. It allows you to see your business through your investor's eyes. As the name suggests it is a plan of your business; your communication tool; selling your marketing, sales and operations. Every time you have a meeting with a potential lender/investor it is your business plan that will do most of the talking.
A business plan is the key to long term success for new and old businesses. Your business must have a foundation to start from and you have to give your business time as success will take longer then merely weeks.

Your reason forwriting a plan will be different for each situation:

  • If you are starting a new business you will require a plan to clearly assess every aspect of the business and show how it will succeed.
  • If you are buying an already established business you will need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business to decide if you will be able to make it a success.
  • If you are already up and running and in need of extra finance you will need a plan to convince those putting capital into your business that you can and will succeed.
  • If you are applying for one of the many grants available.
  • (In my case) If you need to sit back and reasses your business and figure out just where it is you want to go and what you need to do to get there.
I am currently "trying" to work on my plan. It's not fun, but it is necessary so I am making myself do as much as I can on my own then I am getting help with the areas that I'm weak in. There are a lot of resources out there for free where you can go for help with your business plan. There are even good templates you can find online that you can print off to help you on your way. I recommend checking them out and I definitely recommend getting help with your plan if you can. But most of all I recommend writing one in the first place. Those with an clear end goal are more likely to succeed then those who aren't sure where they are going.

Here are some great places you can go for help with your plan:

Business Development Bank Of Canada

Canada Business
Small Business Finance Centre
The Business Link
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Bottom line if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This old saying has great merit and I encourage all business owners to write a business plan. It is an invaluable tool and usually directly relates to the success of your business.

If you don't hear from me for awhile...that's what I'll be doing!

Bouncing Off The Walls

1 comment:

  1. Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)